Tag Archives: memories

We Cannot Go Back

Regardless of whether we are ready or not, life has a way of simply moving forward.  We may want to hold onto today, but – by tomorrow – today will be gone.  The past comes so quickly.  Stop – there…that is now in the past.  We cannot do anything about it. The moment is gone, and we are in the now.  The more we try to hang on to the past, the less likely we are to see the now.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot go back and capture the past.

385555_10150934398082371_1647390012_nI have now been to and have returned from my 20th high school reunion.  The planning committee worked very hard to create the best possible reunion, and nearly one half of my graduating class turned out for the event.  Before I arrived at the first event on Friday night, I was so sick to my stomach with anxiety.  As I spoke with others, I realized that I was not the only one who felt this way.  It was hard for us to know what it would be like to see each other again after – for many of us – twenty years (or ten if we attended the last reunion…).

Many of us would not do high school again if given the choice.

In speaking with many people, I came to realize that I was not one of the few who found high school as a difficult experience.  I had guessed this, but it kept being confirmed over and over again.  Many of us had walked out of the graduation ceremony and had just kept walking.  A few attempts at getting together or communicating had occurred, but we many of us had pretty much built lives separate from the high school experience.  And we were not sure what it would mean or be like to go back.

Others had stayed very connected with their high school friends.  Some had continued with the friendships that they had even as they added new friends from other experiences – many of them had remained in our hometown, but that was not required for them to be in this group .  It was obvious, to me at least, that this group to which I did not relate experienced something different at the reunion than what I was experiencing. Without spending a great deal of time with a good number of these classmates, I would not know how this occurred, why this occurred, and if this meant that they enjoyed the reunion more.

Either way – there was one thing that I realized very quickly: none of us can go back to the way it was in high school.

None of us (especially me as I was never good at this) will don cheerleading outfits again.  Few of us will pursue the sports that we (they – I am not an athlete!)  had pursued in high school.  Many of us have learned to navigate social situations better than we did in high school.  Some of us moved very far away from “home” as classmates came from both near and far away places such as Holland, Australia, and  Alaska (North Pole, AK, at that!).  Regardless of the physical distance between us all, distance created by time and different life experiences is still there.

This has changed us.

We are not the same people. We have grown up in the sense that we are more confident in ourselves.  We have moved on and created lives that, for many, are full of fulfilling careers, families, and hobbies.  We have become comfortable in our own skin, and we are – for the most part – happy with what we have become.

However…

While we may or may not recognize each other, while we may or may not keep in touch, and while we may or may not have many positive memories of the past, we must recognize that we share the past.  For some us, we share thirteen years of public school history.  This fact holds us together, and that is important.  This fact is what brings us together at reunion time, and that fact is important.  This fact is what – most likely – drives us to seek each other’s friendship on Facebook.

Side note: Oh – yes – I would guess that a certain amount of healthy curiosity is also at the foundation of that.

We cannot go back, but we can move forward.

We may not all become great friends in the way that we were in high school (for some that may be a blessing).  We may not even talk with some people again until our 30th reunion.  But we do not need to be sick to our stomachs as that reunion approaches.  Connecting with our past reminds us of who we are and from whence (I like using that word!) we came.  In addition, it helps us to pave our futures because we can move forward with a renewed perspective.

Seeing classmates again, though scary for me at first, was a good experience, and – from the Facebook posts – it looks as though that was true for many.  As move away from this weekend, it will be interesting to see how the next ten years will differ from the past twenty.  Will social media keep us connected in ways that we have not experienced before?  Will this be a positive thing for us?

As we move forward, my hope is that we will constantly encourage each other to be more than we were twenty years ago, ten years ago, and today.

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Nine Years…

It was a “Friday the 13th” morning in June 2003, and I was supposed to jump in a car to drive from Grand  Forks, ND, to Minneapolis, MN, in order to attend the wedding of some good friends.  But when I went into her bedroom to say goodbye for the wedding, I knew that attending a wedding far away from her bedside would be a bad idea.  Instead, I called the huz and told him that he and the kids should come to Grand Forks.

And before noon that day – before they had arrived – she was gone.

The six month battle with cancer – one with an unfair disadvantage of being too rare and found too late  – ended quietly and most likely, aided by strong medication that had clouded her thinking for a few weeks, painlessly.  In fact, to call it a battle implies that both sides fought, and – though she tried a few medical treatments – for the most part, her side of the battle was fought by those on their knees.

Many people had begged God to intercede…

On the Monday night before, she had eaten her last real meal with us  – ravioli. From then onward, she sipped on liquid food; I think it is called Ensure which makes me think of old people…and, at 53, she was far from old. The hospice nurse visited often, and we knew that we had entered a new stage.  She no longer argued with my presence to help her with her needs, and – though she tried to help – I had moved into “the know” of the business side of their lives.  Just the night before a medical professional had visited her in person and had said, “It is most likely weeks at this point rather than months.”

We did not know it would be hours.

In the nine years since my mother’s death, I have wrestled with every stage of grief, have revisited them often, and have found that the strangest parts of life will make me the saddest.  Perhaps others “do grief” better than I do, or perhaps they just do not wear their emotions on their sleeves.

Maybe I do not either.

In fact, for the most part, I would assume that anyone who does not read my blog frequently would guess that I am “over that.”  It often catches people off guard – those who did not know me through that time of my life – when I talk about my mom in past tense, but past tense it is as there is no other tense which serves well.

There is also no tense that serves well the limbo that a now motherless daughter can use to talk about the years between her mother’s death and the present.  There are so many things that serve as time markers in our lives, and the death of parent is definitely one of those markers.  It works well in the list of markers (put in the order of my life which differs from others): graduation from high school, marriage, the birth of a child, graduation from college, the birth of another child, moving to a new state, moving to a new country, returning to the original country, moving to a new state, and the death of a parent.

And a line is drawn there – at the ominous moment when all that was became different, when what I knew to be true no longer was, and how I lived my life was altered by that one permanent outside force called death.  When we moved to another country, we knew we would return some day…it was temporary.

But there is absolutely nothing temporary about death.  Someone who was here is now gone, and that person will not come back. For those of us left to grieve, it is a new state of being that is full of difference, overwhelming feelings, and an utter loss at how to move forward. What was is gone, and nothing that comes to be will replace what was.

Life as we knew it will never be again.

But life goes on.  Each morning greets us with new daylight.  Children must be fed and nurtured.  Businesses must be run.  Jobs await our return.  Life goes on…and so does the sadness.  Every day, it is different.  Every year, it changes.   Even so (to steal a line from Les Miserables), “the grief goes on and on and on…”

The amazing part about grief and hope is that they are not opposites; it is not that we have a certain amount of one and a balance of the other. They can co-exist.  We can be 100% grief-stricken while having 100% hope.

I do not think that I knew that or even realized that until recently when a friend introduced me to a new version of Myers-Briggs type personality scale called LuminaSpark. The concept of the Myers-Briggs scale is that you are either introverted or extroverted, either intuitive or sensory, either feeler or thinker, and either judging or perceiving.  LuminaSpark measures how much of each one uses in every day life.  As readers might guess, in my bipolar tendencies I find this to be true.  In fact, on the scale I am nearly 90% extraverted as well as nearly 90% introverted.  It keeps every one guessing, I am sure!

When we apply this thinking to grief and hope, we no longer have to think about whether we are grief-stricken or hopeful.  We can be both!  And that thought in and of itself gives me life.  I used to think that if I missed my mom too much or too often that I was just caught up in grief and neglecting the hope that I have in the resurrection through Jesus Christ.

But this is just not true.

It is not grief or hope.

It is grief with hope.

That makes all the difference in my life.

Accepting that grief and hope will be my reality – possibly for the rest of my life – has been so comforting.  I do not have to get over anything in order to be a healthy and productive individual.  I can give grief its due and embrace the hope that I know to be true – that one day I will dance with the angels next to my mom who has been practicing for years.

PS…

The huz wrote an amazing article this week over on his blog.  He combines theology with a tribute to my mom.  It was great, and it made his point well.  You should really check it out.

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Filed under faith, Thoughts

Water Balloon Magic

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I have a love-hate relationship with water balloons.  Pretty much, I love to hate them.  I also love to make them and be the one throwing them.  I hate being the one who has them thrown at her, though.

Love.  Hate.  Water balloons.

Water balloons, though, are some of the most versatile objects known to humans.  They can be the center of just about any game imaginable.  A game that has become old to those playing it can be changed in an instant when the rules change to include water balloons. 

They are magic!

Schools love them (well, kids in school love them), camps love them (again, kids at camp love them), churches can put them to good use, and – I found, at least – that parents can turn a boring afternoon into a whole lot of fun with, you guessed it, water balloons.

When I saw these water balloon contractions at CVS the other night, my favorite water balloon story came to mind.

During the school year of 2001-2002, the huz, the boy (then 4 yrs old), the girl (then 5 yrs old), and I had the great pleasure of living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Upon his graduation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in May 2001, the huz had been the recipient of a preaching scholarship that required us to live overseas while he studied preaching in a different setting.  We chose Scotland for many reasons, and we have never regretted doing so.

We lived in one of the two top flats at 33 Howe Street next door to AJ Stewart.  When people would come to visit us, they would pull on a nob at the street level that would pull on a bell connected by a wire. The bell would ring, we would look out our front windows to see if we knew the person before we would pull up on a lever that unlatched the door at the bottom of the stairs – three flights below.

One of the best moments that I remember is when some friends came to visit on a warm and sunny day.  When they rang the bell, the huz and the boy tossed water balloons down at them before we let them in.  It was great fun!

I know that this is kind of silly, but this is what I remembered when I saw the water balloons at CVS.  It was a good reminder of one of the best years of my life.

What fun stories do you have about water balloons?  What not-so-fun stories do you have about water balloons?  Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

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Memories: Mom and Nachos

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Last night, the huz had a hankering for one of the appetizers that my mom used to make for us when we would come to visit…so we made them.

Put a layer of corn chips down on a cookie sheet.  Cover the chips with your favorite kind of nacho cheese.  Then put down some slices of pepperoni – the amount is really up to you.  I like to add another lighter layer of cheese.  Bake the nachos on 350 degrees until the cheese looks yummy.  Switch the oven setting to broil for a few minutes to add a bit of crispiness.

Eat with your favorite salsa. Recently, we have been enjoying salsa purchased from the grocery store which truly comes from the Mexican Village restaurants in Grand Forks and Fargo, ND.

If you try these, think of my mother who was not the best cook but what she did cook was great.  As I took the picture last night, the boy asked why I would blog about pepperoni nachos.  The truth is, when I take a bite of these nachos and close my eyes, I can see my mom very vividly.

And that is a good memory.

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Changing My Ways

When I started blogging again on August 1 and committed to blogging every day, I envisioned that I would sit down at the computer every day and pour out whatever prose came from the top of my head.  As the name of my blog insinuates, there are times when my mind races, and I needed an outlet to slow the mind, catch the thoughts, record them, and share them.  What I have found over the course of the past twenty plus days is that thoughts tend to be tied to images.  As I go through my day, I think,”Oh, I should blog about that…” about twenty times.  The thought that typically follows that one is, “I should take a picture to remind me and to share on my blog.”

Cell phones are a fabulous companion as most of them have cameras on them.  Over the past few weeks, though, I have found the limitations on my Blackberry annoying.  I want to share better images.  I want to see the images as I did when I was there.

I want to capture the memories better.

When I wrote that last sentence, part of me wants to look in the mirror and be sure that I am still me.  Who is this person?

The person who has poo-pooed (is that how we spell that? well, it is now!) scrapbooking and memory books wants to capture memories better?

Who am I and who stole the old me?

In order to better capture the images around me, we have purchased a new camera for my use.

I am so excited!

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